Mirpur: With threat of a shocking series defeat looming large, under-pressure India under their beleaguered captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be aiming to come out all guns blazing as they meet an upbeat Bangladesh in the second cricket one-dayer on Sunday.
After being comprehensively thrashed by 79 runs in the opening match of the three-match series, India for the first time are staring at the ignominy of series defeat against the proverbial minnows of world cricket in the backdrop of some unwanted controversy that resulted in skipper Dhoni being docked 75 percent of his match fees.
The road to redemption for Indian cricketers might just be a bit more tougher than what is expected as multiple factors stand in their way of clawing back to keep the series alive by restoring parity. The first and foremost is Bangladesh's performance of late. If anyone thought that making it to the last eight of the ICC Cricket World Cup was a fluke, they were proved completely wrong by Mashrafe Mortaza and his bunch of talented youngsters as they whipped Pakistan 3-0 at home.
The 'Tigers' once again roared as they crushed a full- strength India side fair and square in what was a lop-sided contest for the better part of the match. The second factor which is also equally significant is skipper Dhoni --- his form has not been great for quite some time and now the tag of 'Captain Cool' has taken a dent in the recent times.
Dhoni can consider himself very lucky that his 'Level-2' offence off shoving opposition debutant Mustafizur Rahaman did not result in a two-match suspension, which would have effectively ended the series for him. More than parting with 75 percent of his match fees, Dhoni would just like to look back as to what exactly is going wrong with his batting. An innings of 85 in a win against a below-par Zimbabwe attack in the World Cup and a 65 while delaying the inevitable against Australia in the semi-finals have been his better contributions of late.
Statistics showed that Dhoni's strike-rate against left-arm spinners has dropped down to around 66 in the four years post 2011 World Cup victory. More importantly, when a left-arm spinner is in operation, it takes him 32 balls to hit a boundary. No wonder he struggled against Shakib Al Hasan. Not only his own struggle, Dhoni as a captain needs to ensure that his entire bunch pulls up their socks and perform like a team possessed to weed out any chances of an upset.
There is a possibility that weather could play spoilsport again and Team India would be praying for a full match in order to get proceedings on level terms. Shikhar Dhawan had a poor outing in the opener but his form of late has been good and the left-hander would like to continue from where he left in the Test match at Fatulla with a big hundred.
Rohit Sharma is a man of big hundreds and double hundreds when it comes to ODI cricket and he would not like to throw it away like he did in the first match when he looked set for another three figure mark. Test captain Virat Kohli's ODI figures are phenomenal but the lean patch in limited overs is his first in the last five years and it might just require one innings to get it back on track. Ajinkya Rahane on his day can be as dangerous as a Dhoni or a Kohli and would be licking his wounds after his failure in the first match.
However for Dhoni, the most important aspect would be to ensure that his bowling unit performs their job better than what they did last time. Especially the pacers, who were taken to the cleaners by the Bangladeshi top-order. Umesh Yadav's inconsistency is baffling since he has been a regular feature for more than a season now. His inconsistency in hitting the right channel cost India dearly in the first match.
Mohit Sharma has been Dhoni's trusted third pacer for sometime now but he didn't look the part during the match being blasted for more than 50 runs in less than five overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar's sharp drop in pace from early 130 kmph to mid-120kmph is also a factor that has added to Dhoni's woes. Which leaves Indian team with their main strike bowler in Ravichandran Ashwin. It was because of Ashwin and partially Suresh Raina, that India were able to restrict Bangladesh to 307 instead of a score close to 350 which looked quite possible at one stage.
As an ODI side, Bangladesh has improved a lot in recent times with a nice blend of experience and youth. While the quartet of Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal and captain Mashrafe Mortaza form the core, they have unveiled some serious talents in opener Soumya Sarkar and left-arm paceman Mustafizur Rahman. Mustafizur has impressed everyone with his variations and change of pace which troubled every Indian batsmen.
India Vs Bangladesh Squads
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain and wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma, Bhuvneshar Kumar, Ambati Rayudu, Dhawal Kulkarni, Axar Patel, Stuart Binny.
Mashrafe Mortaza (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mustafizur Rahman, Rony Talukdar, Mominul Haque, Arafat Sunny.
Match Starts: 2:30 pm IST.